National Football League prospect Michael Sam recently came out publicly that he’s gay during an interview with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.” The All-American defensive end and SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year is predicted to be picked in the third or fourth round of the NFL draft. Now, there are many question about whether this will affect his chances of entering the NFL. There is no doubt there will be obstacles upon his professional career, but his skills will quiet those who disagree with his life choice. “I’m not naïve,” said Sam in an interview with the New York Times. “I know this is a huge deal and I know how important this is. But my role as of right now is to train for the combine and play in the NFL.” Sam’s courageous decision to speak out will break barriers to the “manly man game.” Even if his news doesn’t change the outcome in his selection, his experience as a professional athlete will change the world of male dominated sports. According to Sports Illustrated, eight NFL coaches and executives who were interviewed anonymously gave their opinion on homosexuality. One personal assistant stated, “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. It’d chemically imbalance the NFL locker room and meeting room.” The idea that a gay man would “chemically imbalance” the team room is a harsh and ignorant statement, especially after the NFL took mild measurements for bullying in a locker room from one teammate to another. If I were an NFL coach, Sam’s talents and skills would be more significant than anything my team would “lose” because of his sexual orientation. The NFL has become a symbol and definition of “real men” in America, yet because of Sam’s life choice he is no longer a man, but an outsider. He has received immense support from teammates and fans. Even First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted her support along with her husband President Obama. One response that caught my attention was by a Texas sports anchor Dale Hansen. Dale spoke about Sam’s announcement, and emphasized the fact that the NFL celebrates the performance of those that do more harm than good, for example players who are arrested for a DUI or caught in the act of using illegal substances. Regardless of his sexual orientations, Sam’s ability to perform at the combine and individual team workouts should be viewed equally compared to other players.
March 6, 2014Spring is coming our way, which means the George Fox University women’s tennis team is back to continue the 2013-14 season. In their first match, the Bruins swept Miles College 9-0 on Feb. 16. The women won three doubles and won four out of six matches in singles. On Feb. 21 the Bruins eked out a win against Lewis and Clark College in the Northwest Conference Opener, 5-4. Lewis and Clark stole the first two doubles, but the Bruins came back and won No. 3 by sophomores Megan Dahlberg and Ali Diehl defeating Allison Schneirder and Esa Grigsby 8-3. In the singles matches, the Bruins lost the first two, but came back to win four games straight. The women escaped another close loss versus Pacific University, 5-4, on Feb. 23; this marked their best start in team history with a three-game winning streak. The win came down to the No. 6 singles match by Diehl who won 6-1, 6-1. “My expectations for the team are that we push each other, but are also leaning on each other, and having fun,” said Diehl. “Tennis is draining not only physically, but also mentally, and I hope we can lean on each other during the hard times and always find something to smile or laugh about.” On March 1 regionally-ranked Whitman College ended the bruins three-game winning streak in a heart breaking loss, 9-0. The women are currently 3-2 in conference and will play Puget Sound on March 7. According to Head Coach Rick Cruz this team is young and inexperienced compared to previous years. Senior Alyssa Emoto is the only returner and the Bruins only have four players in the line-up with one year or less experience playing college tennis. “I am looking forward to challenging myself to play better every match despite having to face some pretty stiff competition at the No. 1 singles position,” said Emto. “This season will be a great opportunity for learning and growth for all of my teammates that they can carry into next year. I am also definitely looking forward to our spring break trip to Orlando. It’s always a great team bonding experience and of course the sunny weather doesn’t hurt either.” Though they’re young, Cruz hopes to pull some upsets during the season and reach the conference tournament. “The strength of this team is camaraderie of this group,” said Cruz. “I have a great group that works well with one another and roots each other on. A team that gets along off the court will lead to more success on the court.”
February 25, 2014Last week I wrote a column about NFL prospect Michael Sam, who recently announced he was gay during an ESPN interview. Some analysts believe his news could damage his chances of getting picked in the NFL draft, but before that momentous event, NBA center James Collins was the first professional athlete in a major American team sport to come out about his sexual orientation. Collins was a free agent during that time, but on Sunday he made history yet again. The Brooklyn Nets offered Collins a 10-day contract and tweeted out a picture of him signing on. Not only did he sign that same day, but he also checked in during the second quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Lakers. A round of applause was heard as he walked on the court of the Staple Center. Many supported him over Twitter, and Michael Sam directly Tweeted him, “Congratulations to my friend @jasoncollins34 – excited to see you do work out there #courage #groundbreaking” Collins hasn’t played professionally since April of last year with the Washington Wizards because he didn’t receive an invitation to training camp from any NBA teams. This didn’t discourage him from pursuing his passion. Collin continued to work out and is now is the first gay athlete to play the sport, and the world of sports continued on. He played a total of 11 minutes and had two rebounds. During the time of his contract the Nets will play a total of five games. The nets have been thinking about signing Collins for about a week since they were in need of a big body against the Lakers. According to an ESPN article, “The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision,” said Nets general manager Billing King in a statement. “We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract.” I commend the Nets for looking beyond Collins’s sexual orientation, even if it’s just a 10-day contract. It’s an initial step for equal opportunity for future gay athletes. This decision brings hope that Michael may be chosen to play for an NFL team.
February 11, 2014The George Fox University indoor track and field team is setting national and school records as they prepare for the outdoor season. Sophomore Will Lawrence and junior Charity Arn set new George Fox records as the Bruins won eight events in the first meet at the Jackson Open and Multi-Events in Boise, Idaho on Dec. 13. Lawrence won the 800-meter run in 1:54.35, breaking the previous Bruin record of 1:55.34. Arn exceeded the previous record of 3,387 points in the pentathlon with a total of 3,407 points. Sophomore Maria Green placed third with 3,078 points. “My hope for this indoor track season is to make it to nationals and make it into the top eight,” said Green. “That would be awesome.” At the Ed Jacoby Invitational, Arn returned to post the third-best score in the nation to date in the NCAA Division III with 3,547 points in the women’s pentathlon. Green accumulated 3,335 points, which places her third on the George Fox top-ten all-time list, and fifth nationally. “Our team has been kicking off the indoor season with some big marks,” said Head Coach John Smith. “The early success shows the work that those athletes put in during the summer and came into the fall ready to make big strength and speed improvements.” In the men’s meet, senior Ezekiel Smith posted a George Fox record after finishing seventh in the heptathlon with 4,371 points. Freshman Ryan Braden placed second in the high jump at 6-2.75 / 1.90m and took eighth in the long jump at 21-5.5 / 6.54m. Senior Joseph Pia placed third in the in the 3,000 meter run with a time of 8:45.96. Arn currently ranks seventh in the history of the NCAA Division III for her record-setting score of 3,547 points. Arn was named Bruin Athlete of the Week for Jan. 27-Feb. 2 and received honorable mention for the National Women’s Athlete of the Week award by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. “To me, track is so much more than just numbers in a book,” said Arn. “So yes, it felt great to put up those numbers, but not necessarily because they are written in a record book. It felt great because I am doing what I love to do with the people I love to do it with. God has given me so many blessings within track and I am so thankful!” Smith believes Lawrence will have a good chance of qualifying for the national meet, and he expects Green and Arn to challenge for a top five spot in the NCAA podium. “By competing in indoor track, we not only are getting some big-time recognition for GFU, we are able to help our athletes achieve at a high level for the outdoor season,” said Smith.
February 4, 2014The Portland Trail Blazers have surpassed their previous 2012-13 record of 33-49, as they advance to 34-14 with a playoff run in sight. The Blazers came into this season with a new roster built around all-star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge elevates his teammates by making those around him play better. Both Aldridge and sophomore point guard Damian Lillard were selected for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game as reserves. Portland fans were disappointed since they believed Aldridge deserved a starting position. He didn’t receive enough fan votes, but the NBA coaches believed he deserved a spot. Though his teammates, specifically small forward Nicholas Batum, were upset, Aldridge maintained poise. In an interview with Blazeredge, Aldridge said, “I’ve kind of gotten used to those things happening. “Everybody around me was more upset than me,” he continued. “I came in tonight and [Nicolas Batum] was pretty fired up about it. My mom was pretty heated about it. Me, I was like, ‘OK, this is happening again.’ Aldridge is averaging 24.4 points per game and 11.6 rebound. ESPN Tom Pen ranked Aldridge as the No. 1 power forward in the NBA. He’s in the race for MVP at No. 3 behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Though the month of November and December was a striking surprise for most Portlanders and the NBA, the team hit a slump in January. The Blazers are known for depending too much on the three-point, and being absent on defense. In the first months of the season the Blazers shot a combined 40 percent from the three-point line. In January they combined 35 percent. The Blazers need to improve their defense and points in the paint if they want to be taken seriously as a playoff prospective. Portland went 8-6 in January and scored a season low of 81 points against the Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 26, and lost 98-81. Before the month ended, the Blazers pushed for a much-needed win against the Toronto Raptors, 106-103. The win prevented the team’s first three-game losing streak of the season. The Blazers are third in the Western Conference trailing behind the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma Thunder. Up next, the Blazers have a four game road trip which ends this week against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Then the Blazers will meet at home against the Thunder on Feb. 11. The Seattle Seahawks and Trail Blazer owner Paul Allen just won his first world championship as an owner on Sunday as the Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl XLVIII. I wonder if his luck will roll over for the Blazers and bring an NBA world championship to Portland. One can only dream.
December 18, 2013When the George Fox Bruins football team straps on pads for the first time in forty years next fall, they’ll be the final school in NCAA Division III’s Northwest Conference to have a football program. Starting collegiate football programs has been popular recently and a trio of NCAA Division III schools had new teams this season. Here’s a look at how they did in their inaugural seasons: Berry College Vikings (0-9): Located in Mount Berry, Georgia, the private college has about 2,000 undergraduate students (George Fox has roughly 2,100). This marked football’s first year ever at the school. The Vikings failed to win a game and their closest contest was at Rhodes in a 36-24 defeat. They did beat LaGrange’s junior varsity squad 37-27 in an exhibition game. Hendrix College Warriors (3-7): Hendrix College is a private college with about 1,400 students located in Conway, Ark. They managed three victories, but it should be noted that two of them were against the two other schools on this list. Their other win was their opener, a 46-44 squeaker versus Westminster College (Mo.). This was the Warriors first foray into football since 1960. Southwestern University Pirates (0-10): With 1,300 students, Southwestern University is a liberal arts college located in Georgetown, Texas. Their closest loss was to Hendrix in a 48-29 defeat. This was the Pirates’ first season since 1950, an even longer hiatus than George Fox or Hendrix. Bonus: Pacific University Boxers (7-3): Pacific University, just 20 miles away in Forest Grove, also recently began football. The Boxers program began in 2010 after 19 years off the gridiron. The went 0-9 in each of their first two seasons in the Northwest Conference, but this past season was a success with a 7-3 record and 3-3 in conference. So while the Bruins may endure a few rocky seasons, there is hope on the horizon.
December 10, 2013Lauren Codling defeated the odds. She has overcome obstacles, but she accepts them willingly. Junior forward Codling has been playing basketball since first grade. After graduating from Sherwood High School in 2009, she went on to play at Mt. Hood Community College. Due to her pregnancy, she took a year off from basketball and studied full time at Chemeketa Community College. In December of 2010 Codling gave birth to her son, Cooper. She never expected to play basketball again, but her convictions changed when Chemeketa’s head coach, Jesse Ailstock, noticed her name on a class list during her pregnancy. The coach dug up some background information and contacted her in April to ask gauge her interest – did Codling want to play basketball again? Codling was unsure. Being a mom was new, and she didn’t want to leave Cooper for extended periods of time. But she decided to give it a shot – and fell back in love with the game. “Before I got pregnant, basketball was everything,” said Codling. “I weighed basketball heavier than anything else, but after having my son he was my first priority and my biggest love.” After a year at Chemeketa, she transferred to play for the George Fox University women’s team. It was a last minute decision, but a good one, she said. George Fox felt close to home, and the good academics and basketball program persuaded her to come. Her expectations for the team this season are to be successful and to play at her full potential. “Ultimately we want to win league, go on to the national tournament, and win the national championship,” said Codling. “I want to work my hardest no matter what the circumstances are, whether I’m playing good or bad. Just to keep my mental game and physical game at a steady balance.” Codling enjoys the family-like atmosphere and the encouragement around her. “The support I have from the coaches and my teammates is amazing and I haven’t had that anywhere else,” said Codling. “It’s helped a ton.” The most challenging part has been balancing basketball, school, and taking care of her son. She’s away at school and practice all day, and doesn’t see him until late in the evening. “It’s hard for him to adjust from me being more of a stay-at-home mom to him having to go to day care and preschool. It’s challenging,” said Codling. Being part of the sports team has helped her feel like part of the community, more connected. She’s been able to get her name out there and meet people through her teammates. Codling is majoring in Fitness Management with a minor in Health. After graduating, she hopes to work part time as a health teacher or personal trainer and be a part-time stay-at-home mom.
December 10, 2013Bruin men’s basketball has been making a buzz early this season with their high-octane offense. Over five games, the Bruins have compiled a 5-1 record, one of the team’s best season starts in recent memory, and have done so averaging 95.5 points per game. Their lone loss was against Concordia-Portland, a team who has scored at least 100 points in their last four games and put up 94 in an exhibition loss to Division I Oregon State. While it’s still early in the season, George Fox’s average is a vast improvement over last year’s 72.9 points per game. That team went 15-11 and only scored 80 points three times, a mark this season’s team has suppressed in all five contests. The high scoring games have followed current head coach Maco Hamilton from Union High School in Vancouver, Wash. Hamilton, who is in his first season at George Fox, led Union to a state title in 2010. Last season, his team went 16-8. In at least five of their games last season Union topped 80 points. While this season’s George Fox team is currently averaging high numbers, it might take a bit more if they want to set the school’s all-time highest scoring season record. This record was set in 1990-91 when the 24-6 Bruins averaged 100.4 points per game Regardless of what records they set, this season’s team looks to have a solid year, as the team has six players averaging double digits. Senior Spencer Bolte paces the team with an 18.2 average. While the Bruins played conference rivals Linfield on Dec. 7, their main portion of conference play starts on Jan. 3 when they travel to Pacific Lutheran.
December 3, 2013The George Fox University women’s basketball team is off to a solid start, as they’ve launched the season with a four game winning streak. On Nov. 15-16 the Bruins hosted the George Fox Classic tournament. During the home opener, George Fox beat California Lutheran 88-59. The game introduced 17 players onto the court, and all but two scored. The following night, the Bruins eked out a close win against Wheaton College, 53-50. “In a way I feel like the games were similar,” said Head Coach Michael Meek. “I don’t think we played to our potential, but I wouldn’t expect that this time of year anyway.” The team traveled to California for their first road game on Nov. 22-23. The Bruins outscored the University of La Verne 76-45. The next day, the Bruins had an opportunity to defeat Chapman University, after losing last season. In a close battle, the Bruins won, 65-62. Guard Jami Roos, last year’s leading scorer, is currently injured with a sprained ankle. The Bruins have been able to overcome this challenge because of the extensive, talented roster, said Meek. “We should be able to run teams into the ground with our quickness and pressure,” said Roos. “We’re a very competitive team and hard-working group so I expect a lot of good things to come from that.” Practice early in the season is focused on getting more comfortable with daily routines and team chemistry. This includes executing plays and shooting. Meek feels the defense has been acceptable so far, but still has room for improvement. “We’re still making adjustments here and there, looking at rotations, and figuring out who we want to be,” said Meek. As the season continues, practice will shift towards preparing for opponents and finding specific strategies for each team they play. “I think this year will be much different than last year because we have set the expectations much higher,” said post Megan Hays. “Practices have been very competitive, which has helped us progress much faster. We have seven new players this year, and every single one of them has adapted well to our system.” George Fox placed third in the preseason polls for the Northwest Conference, based on returning players and last year’s results. This year’s freshmen have been outstanding, according to Meek. As the season develops, confidence is key if they want to play in the rotation. The team’s transfers bring basketball intellect, while returners are confident in their positions on the team. “Our goal is to be the best team we can be, and we feel if we reach that potential we have a team that should be battling near the top of the league,” said Meek.
November 27, 2013The Portland Trail Blazers fans knew the 2013-14 season would look better than previous years, but no one saw an 11 game winning streak coming. Though it is early in the season, the Blazers have shown countless improvement on defense and team chemistry. Some analysts have connected the streak to the soft schedule early in the season, but the Blazers have shown continuous resilience after finishing a 4-0-road trip. They returned home to beat the Chicago Bulls, 98-95, and the Golden State Warriors, 113-101, back-to-back. The eleven straight wins has sparked a lot of approval for the Blazers over social media, yet Head Coach Terry Stotts said he doesn’t even mention the streak to the team because he doesn’t believe they have accomplished anything. I agree with Terry – it’s still early in the season and a long schedule waits, but credit can still be given to their effort. Recently awarded Western Conference Player of the week, LaMarcus Aldridge, is leading the team in scoring with 22.1 points per game. He played an outstanding game on Nov. 23 against the Golden State Warriors as he led the team to victory. Aldridge finished the game with 30 points and 21 rebounds. Wesley Matthews is averaging 16.7 points per game and has been lighting up from the three-point line. Though he was ejected late in the third quarter during the Warriors game, Matthew shot five of six from the three, and finished with 23 points. The Blazers are currently first in the Western Conference, while the San Antonio Spurs trail closely behind. During the 2007-08 season the Blazers had a 13-game run, led by former guard Brand Roy. The Blazers were within reach after a win over the New York Knicks, 102-91, on Nov. 25, but hope was lost when the Blazers were defeated again by the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 27. After a holiday break, the Blazers bounced back to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, 114-108. The Blazers built 17-point lead in the first quarter and a 20-point lead in the third, but the Lakers returned to close the gap each time. Aldridge and Lillard led the team in scoring, and helped the team escape a loss. On Monday the Blazers sent a message to fans after they dethroned the number one team in the NBA, the Indiana Pacers. Though Pacer Paul George led his team with 43 points, the Blazers proved to be taken serious with a 106-102 win. The 15-3 record has given the new team confidence, but for how long fans will see this is unknown. For now, let’s enjoy the wonderful gift.
November 22, 2013So it’s getting close now. In fact it’s so close, I can taste it. The turkey, the gravy, the mashed potatoes, the rolls… I don’t know about you, but I’m quite thankful that it’s nearly Thanksgiving. While the food alone sets the day apart from other Thursdays of the year, there’s also something as awesome as food: football! As always, I plan to leisurely roll out of bed to the smell of my parents’ cooking and stroll downstairs to the television where I’ll watch some football. This year the first game will be the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. It should actually be pretty good since both sides are battling for NFC North supremacy. Following that contest is the Oakland Raiders at the Dallas Cowboys and then the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Baltimore Ravens. Ah, quite the life. But I haven’t got to the best part yet. All the food and football wouldn’t be special if there wasn’t family. So even if there was great things to eat and watch, I would be thankful for them. Family helps you when you’re feeling down or in tough situations. Family is there for you when no one else is. Your family can be friends too! Some of us won’t be with our actual family this year, but we still get to spend time with our friends. Family are those who love us and listen to our problems. No matter who they are, those who love us are there to be cherished and not taken for granted. All in all, I’m definitely looking forward to some food, football and family! PS – Thanksgiving also means we can finally start listening to Christmas music!